On Sunday morning Andrew Miller showed up to practice with the odds stacked heavily against him. The normally friendly Marlins fans had turned into “boo birds”, every sports radio announcer wanted his head on a stick, or at least in AA, and even his fans had begun to doubt his pitching ability at the big league level. No longer did anyone care that Miller was a stud in college, winning 27 games while losing just 9 in three seasons. He was named College Player of the Year by Baseball America in 2006 but try telling that to a desperate Florida Marlins fan who still suffers from the heartbreaks of 1998, 2005, and 2008. They see a team with lots of power and a 1st place spot in the East and suddenly it means absolutely nothing that the manager wants Andrew Miller in the bigs, basically learning as he goes. To add to the pressure this 23-year old is facing, he is up against arguably the greatest pitcher of our generation, Greg Maddux, attempting to win his 350th career game for the fourth time.
Having come to the Florida Marlins in a trade that saw two hometown idols leave for Detroit, the spotlight has been shinning bright on Andrew Miller more than anyone else. Cameron Maybin, a five tool player and future superstar being called the next Ken Griffey Jr. was arguably the center piece of the trade but he’s barely surviving in AA minor league ball. Other players brought in the trade like Mike Rabelo & Burke Badenhop had made a small impact but it’s Miller who has to live up to lofty expectations that so far, he has not fulfilled by any stretch of the imagination. In 31 inning pitched this season he has given up a deadly 51 hits and 29 runs so it is no wonder that there have been many whispers throughout the Internet, on the sports radio shows, and even in the media about a demotion. Unfortunately for them, on this day Andrew Miller finally showed flashes of greatness that had been absent all season long. He not only out pitched the future hall of fame member Greg Maddux, he also out shined him by driving in a run for his own cause.
Of course, this will all go to waste if Andrew struggles in his next outing but one thing you should remember is that Andrew is just a baby by baseball standards. Many consider Sandy Koufax the greatest southpaw pitcher of all-time but it took him six long years to come into his own. Johan Santana became a 20-game winner in his fifth year in the bigs, and Steve Carlton had his first strong year at the age of 24, when he won 17 games. So if you want to go to the games and discount Miller’s ability or if you are a baseball card investor who has given up on Andrew after a rough start, your loss. It won’t be long before Andrew Miller finds his groove in baseball, if he hasn’t already. The only question by then will be whether or not Miller will be sporting a Florida Marlin jersey or a Carolina Mudcats one.